All the while, Stewart had to keep her focus on basketball, which proved particularly challenging in Tokyo. So long as the baby didn’t come early, birth would be induced just after the Games.
Stewart said she had to compartmentalize as never before. “When it was game time at the Olympics, I focused fully on the game,” she said. “When I was off the court, I could think of Marta and the baby.”
In keeping with her private nature, Stewart was quiet about Ruby to her fellow members of the U.S. national team. She told me that only her Storm teammates and close friends, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird, knew what was going on behind the scenes. Bird is a founder of TOGETHXR, the media company for which Stewart filmed a documentary about her surrogacy journey.
“I went from one emotion to the next,” Stewart said. “From winning a gold medal to realizing, OK, I’m going home, and my daughter is going to be born in less than 24 hours.”
What a week she would experience. The gold medal mission accomplished, Stewart flew home with the team, arriving in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, a Sunday. From there she boarded a private plane to Boise, where Xargay and the surrogate waited. Last Monday afternoon, at the Birkeland Maternity Center, in Nampa, Idaho, Stewart and Xargay watched Ruby slip easily into the world.
The brown-haired girl’s wailing shrieks filled the room. She weighed 9 pounds 4 ounces. “I was in shock, seeing a baby being born in front of me,” said Stewart, who stands an angular, broad-shouldered 6 feet 4 inches. “I felt like crying. I also just felt the love that was in the air.”
Stewart cut the umbilical cord. Soon, she and Xargay held Ruby for the first time. They laid their baby on a bed. They placed the freshly won gold medal at Ruby’s side.